Barbara G. Howland

August 4, 2023

Barbara G. Howland died peacefully surrounded by family on July 15, 2023, following a short battle with pancreatic cancer.  Barbara was born to Murray and Mary Howland in Buffalo, NY where she attended the Buffalo Seminary.  After graduating from Beaver College, now Arcadia University, in Pennsylvania, Barbara moved to Boston, MA to work at Harvard Medical School where she was part of a biomedical research team studying a familial form of thyroid cancer.  During her employment, she participated in an extended stay in Norway from where the affected family originated. Although her research career was brief, Barbara created lasting friendships with several of her co-workers which endure to this day.  

Barbara’s next professional position was with Millipore Corporation where she became one of their first saleswomen.  In 1978, she met David Watson and they were married on February 9, 1980.  They welcomed their daughter, Catherine, in 1981 and their daughter, Laura, in 1984.  Barbara continued to work at Millipore until Laura entered kindergarten, at which point she decided being at home with her girls was the key area of her life on which she most wanted to focus.  She spent the next many years actively involved in the lives of her girls and volunteering in the Concord/Carlisle community. 

In the early 1990’s, Barbara started her second career in community service.  She began working at Concord Carlisle Community Chest as a volunteer and quickly moved up the ranks to become the Executive Director in 1993.  She worked there for seven years until she felt the pull to move to other non-profit initiatives focused on young people, including rebuilding the high school radio station, building a skatepark and founding 2Volunteer.  Barbara continued to focus on young people within Concord/Carlisle by becoming a strong advocate behind the development of the Communities for Restorative Justice.  

In 2010, David was diagnosed with dementia, and she spent the next 5 years taking care of him. During that time, she made many life-long friends who supported each other through the highs and lows of losing loved ones to dementia.  After David passed in 2015, she found the next organization on which she wanted to focus her talents – Household Goods.  Again, she quickly rose within the organization and became the president of the Board of Directors. During the pandemic, Household Goods was able to weather the many challenges and it still reached its goal of a $2.2 million capital campaign.  Barbara continued to work with Household Goods until her death and was at their Boston College Move Out Effort at the beginning of May and making calls to clients and answering their questions the week preceding her death.

In addition to all the impressive work that she accomplished and the innumerable friendships that she established and maintained in all of her many career and volunteer positions, Barbara was still able to find time to travel.  She visited the Egyptian Pyramids, went on a tour of Southeast Asian countries, toured most of Europe and even enjoyed an African Safari.  She was still traveling at the end of her life, visiting the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina at the end of May.  Always a planner, Barbara even had a Croatian wine tour planned for this fall.  

Barbara was a beloved Nana to her 4 grandchildren, ranging from 1½ to 9 years old, and happily cared for them whenever they were sick or their parents needed help. She instilled her love of art, music, reading and theater in her grandchildren, taking them to museums and plays, as well as having fun playing on the floor with them and exploring the outdoors together.

Barbara was predeceased by her loving husband of 45 years, David Watson and her nephew, Christopher Webber. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Catherine and James Sheehan, and their two daughters Molly and Lilian of Beverly, MA, her daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Jamie Burson, and their two children Angus and Sophie of Stratham, NH, her sister and brother-in-law, Joanie Howland and Bill Webber, her sister Sally Howland, brother-in-law and his wife, Daniel and Tomasine Watson, her sister-in-law and her husband, Mary Lou and John Trumble, and many nieces and nephews.  Barbara also left a large hole in the non-profit community within Concord.

Family and friends will gather to honor and remember Barbara for her memorial service on Saturday, August 26th at 11:00 am at Trinity Episcopal Church, 81 Elm Street, Concord, MA with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Barbara’s memory may be made to Household Goods, 530 Main St., Acton, MA 01720, the Communities for Restorative Justice, 219 Walden St., Concord, MA 01741 or simply volunteer at your favorite local community group.

Arrangements under the care of Concord Funeral Home, A Life Celebration Home, Concord, MA.  To share a memory or offer a condolence visit: